Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Surf tax shambles

Swimmers getting away from the Council tax-man?

As my colleague Cllr Fitter said, when you are in a hole, best to stop digging.

What is wrong with the Council's proposed tax:

1. It sends the wrong message to surf schools, the second blue light service on the beach.

2. It will encourage more hire of surf boards without a beach presence, so less safe.

3. It is another anti-tourism measure, like closing public toilets.

4. It is unenforceable.

5. The license scheme will give the false impression that the Council can monitor the qualifications of surf instructors.

6. We are,in the end, talking about income of £40,000 and it will probably cost more to collect than it raises.

7. The tax could be the subject of a legal challenge.

8. The damage to reputation of the Council will be huge and unnecessary.

Cllr Fitter, like Cllrs Pearce and Parsons, proposed a fixed fee licence of £500 (which would allow surf instructors to use all our beaches) as a compromise. The Independent/LibDem administration refused to listen and ploughed on with their own unworkable proposals.

But, in a last ditch attempt to avoid losing face (and the tax!) the Leader promised to refer it back for further discussion. What a shambles!

Further discussion will be at the Housing and Environment Portfolio Advisory Committee on 31st July. But then any proposed fees would need to come back to Full Council on 15th September for approval. So no fees will be available for this year so far as I can see.

In the meantime lawyers and accountants might like to read the Council's proposal in full.

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